Deficiency of endothelial nitric-oxide synthase confers susceptibility to diabetic nephropathy in nephropathy-resistant inbred mice

Am J Pathol. 2007 May;170(5):1473-84. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2007.060481.


Recent studies have implicated dysfunctional endothelial nitric-oxide synthase (eNOS) as a common pathogenic pathway in diabetic vascular complications. However, functional consequences are still incompletely understood. To determine the role of eNOS-derived nitric oxide (NO) in diabetic nephropathy, we induced diabetes in eNOS knockout (KO) and wild-type (WT) mice on the C57BL6 background, using low-dose streptozotocin injection, and we investigated their glomerular phenotype at up to 20 weeks of diabetes. Although the severity of hyperglycemia in diabetic eNOS KO mice was similar to diabetic WT mice, diabetic eNOS KO mice developed overt albuminuria, hypertension, and glomerular mesangiolysis, whereas diabetic WT and nondiabetic control mice did not. Glomerular hyperfiltration was also significantly reduced in diabetic eNOS KO mice. Electron micrographs from diabetic eNOS KO mice revealed an injured endothelial morphology, thickened glomerular basement membrane, and focal foot process effacement. Furthermore, the anionic sites at glomerular endothelial barrier estimated by cationic ferritin binding were reduced in diabetic eNOS KO mice. In aggregate, these results demonstrate that deficiency of eNOS-derived NO causes glomerular endothelial injury in the setting of diabetes and results in overt albuminuria and glomerular mesangiolysis in nephropathy-resistant inbred mice. The findings indicate a vital role for eNOS-derived NO in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Albuminuria / etiology
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / enzymology*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Endothelium, Vascular / ultrastructure*
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Immunoblotting
  • Kidney / blood supply
  • Kidney / ultrastructure
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III / deficiency*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III